What will our initial service look like?
Two weeks ago when we announced that we are targeting October 4th, with the service starting at 10:00am, as our resumption of in-person, in-building worship, I stated as we are beginning our services, we would do so without singing and without preaching. Many have asked, if we are not going to have preaching or singing, then what are we going to do?
What we are going to do is a combination of Scripture readings from the lectionary, responsive prayer, and instrumental hymns. Each week of the lectionary has four different readings; an Old Testament reading, a Psalm reading, a New Testament reading, and a Gospel reading. Each Sunday, we will read a passage from the Bible and then take a moment of meditation and reflection on that Scripture. After that moment, we will respond in prayer with that Scripture as a guide for how we should pray. After we pray, we will then hear a hymn that connects with that Scripture, during which we are encouraged to read the passage again. We will repeat that for each of the week’s readings.
I know for many of us, this is a very different way for us to worship. We are used to being able to sing; we are used to hearing the Word of God proclaimed through preaching. Yet, these are not the only practices that can be used as worship of God. One practice that has a long history with the church is Lectio Divina, which means sacred reading. This practice is a structured way to read Scripture that calls on us to slow down and really focus on our reading of our particular passage of scripture. It gives time for meditation and reflection on that passage. It gives the Holy Spirit time to move in us through God’s Scriptures. Ruth Haley Barton says Lectio Divina is reading Scripture for transformation instead of information. This practice helps us move from head to heart, and to build our relationship with God (subheadings in the Lectio Divina chapter of Barton’s book Sacred Rhythms, which I highly recommend). If you have ever felt stagnate in your reading of the Bible, this is a great practice to re-engage our relationship with the Scriptures.
Essentially, our service will be a guided service of Lectio Divina based on the lectionary readings of the week. This has been a challenging season in the life of our church, for churches all over. We still have challenges ahead of us. Yet in the midst of these challenges, we remain committed to growing in our relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will do so through our online worship service, which will continue to be available for those who are not yet comfortable to return for in-person, in-building worship. For those who are comfortable, I hope you will join us excitedly as we prepare to worship using this historic practice.